St. John Valley

Popular trade show returns to the Top O’ Maine after 2-year hiatus

MADAWASKA, Maine — After being put on hold for two years, a long-standing trade show will return to Madawaska and registration is still open for vendors. 

The Top O’ Maine Trade Show, dubbed “the show connecting businesses to the public,” returns to Madawaska’s Recreation Center April 23 and 24. The last Top O’ Maine show in 2019 had 115 different vendors, but has not taken place since due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year will mark 33 years since the show was first organized. 

Interim Executive Director with the St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Lorraine Marston said that this year’s show already has over 100 vendors registered, but may be a bit different from the last show. 

“People are eager and we have a lot of new vendors this year, different ones,” Marston said. “Two-and-a-half years ago certain businesses were around and today they’re not. You can see the change.”

With businesses still calling in to claim booth space, Marston said the show will have a great variety of things to buy or experience including safety demonstrations by Madawaska’s emergency medical technicians and fire department along with plenty of food, crafters, automotive displays, a brand new array of vendors, and even a $500 prize to be won through raffle tickets. 

The decision to bring Top O’ Maine back to the St. John Valley this year was up in the air until the last minute, according to Marston. 

“We really decided at the last minute to take a chance, because we never knew what the outcome of the pandemic would be,” she said. “We decided mid-February to pick it up and say ‘Let’s do it’ because we had a lot of people calling about it which kind of gave us that push. Everybody’s tired of this pandemic and you can get a real sense that people are ready to get out. We will encourage masks for sure, we’ll have signs posted around.” 

The pandemic taking away the opportunity to showcase local businesses had a great impact on those living in the Valley, and the return of Top O’ Maine is one of the first signs of getting back to normality, said Marston. 

“In connection with the Top O’ Maine, we try to bring people to the businesses and we haven’t been able to do that so it really affected a lot of businesses in the valley for sure,” she said. “Especially in Madawaska we depend on a lot of Canadian traffic and we had all these restrictions. This town is definitely going through a change, it’s been a challenging change, but we’re actually starting to see some recovery and we’re going to see a lot of good things happening down the road. We had to go through what we had to go through and now we’re making a lot of good changes.” 

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